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Harrowing video captured a 'very rare' complication in a helicopter rescue that left a hiker spinning as she was lifted

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Video shows the harrowing moments an Arizona hiker was left spinning in the air during a helicopter rescue.
Screenshot/Fox10 Phoenix
  • Harrowing video captured an Arizona hiker spinning in the air during a helicopter rescue on Tuesday.
  • Video from the incident shows the injured woman, who was wrapped up in a special harness and stretcher, spinning as the helicopter lifts her into the air.
  • Phoenix Fire Department officials said while spinning is "very rare" during a rescue, pilots and medical crew are well-prepared to deal with such an incident.
  • A fire official said the woman suffered no ill-effects from the spinning and was not in danger during the rescue, though she was treated for dizziness and nausea upon landing.
  • For more, go to Business Insider South Africa.

Harrowing video captured a "very rare" complication in the Tuesday helicopter rescue of an Arizona hiker that left her spinning rapidly as she was lifted. Firefighters say a woman in her 70's was airlifted off of the Piestewa Peak in the Phoenix Mountains on Tuesday morning after she was injured during a hike, Fox10 Phoenix reported. Capt. Rob McDade from the Phoenix Fire Department told Fox10 that rescuers "decided that the best course of action was to fly the patient off the mountain".

The air rescue was affected by turbulence from the helicopter rotor, which caused the woman, who was wrapped up in a special harness and stretcher, to spin as she was lifted into the air.

Phoenix Fire Department officials said in a press conference on Tuesday that hoist rescues are very common, and the line attached to the rescue basket usually prevents spinning as the helicopter lifts off the ground. However, the line failed to do so in the Tuesday rescue.

"It's a known phenomenon in the hoist rescue industry," Paul Apolinar, chief pilot for Phoenix Police said. He added the spinning was "very rare" and has only happened twice during their 210 rescue missions using the hoist in the last six years. Phoenix Fire Captain Bobby Dubnow said the woman suffered no ill-effects from the spinning and was not in danger during the rescue, though she was treated for dizziness and nausea when they touched down in the base landing zone. She was then sent to a local hospital to be treated for her injuries.

"We're not trying to minimize what happened up there," Dubnow said, though he said the crew was well-trained to deal with the incident.

"Nothing happened today that we weren't prepared to deal with."

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